The hardest lesson

It's been over 6 years and I still remember that day like it was yesterday. It was the worst day of my life. Due to the nature of the accident and the people involved, I do not want to disclose any names. My cousin grew up next door to his best friend. They were more like brother's than friends. When he had is first born he named her after his best friend. My cousin and I also grew up more like brother and sister. He and I had a connection, we both had fathers that were worthless. We understood each other. I had my daughter at a young age, and I think this was when he finally realized how much he meant to me. I named my little girl after him. We started spending more and more time together. My cousin, his best friend, and I we together practically everyday. Our kids were growing up together. My cousin and I had planned to go hang out one night when he called to cancel on me. His best friend had bought some tickets for his dad for a gift and his dad at the last minute told him he didn't want to go. My cousin, knowing what it felt like to have a father that always let you down went with him instead. He asked me if I would call this girl that he had just met and go out with her. My opinion of her was really important to him, and he felt like she was "the one" so he wanted us to get to know each other. So I did. We went to the bar and once it closed we decided to go to the next one. On our way a song came on the radio that my cousin and I considered "our song" because he always changed the words on it to make me laugh. It was strange because I hadn't heard the song on the radio in a couple of years. I called him. I remember asking him "Do you hear it?" as I held the phone to the speaker. In his response I could hear frustration in his voice, "Yeah, I hear it." I asked him what was the matter and he was upset because he had punched some guy for being a jerk to his best friend, so they both got kicked out. I practically begged him to meet up with us so we could hang out. He responded by telling me, "I'll think about it baby girl, but I'm pretty tired and if you don't hear from me, it just means I went to sleep." With disappointment in my voice I said, "Ok, I love you cracker." (we called each other cracker) And he said he loved me too and hung up. The rest of the night was a blur and the next morning on my way to work I called him over and over. I must have left 50 messages on his phone. (I worked an hour from my house) I got to work in my morning meeting my phone kept ringing. After the meeting I checked my caller ID and saw that one of the calls was from one of my cousin's good friends that I wasn't very fond of. I called him back only because I knew he had one of my CDs and I wanted it back. When he answered I immediately made a sarcastic remark and there was silence at the other end of the line. Finally he says, "Are you ok?" I wasn't sure where he was going with that, so I replied, "uh, yeah...have you talked to my cousin, I've been trying to reach him all morning?" More silence. Then all of a sudden he tells me that he has to let me go. A rush of panic flew over me. "No way!" I shouted. "Have you talked to my cousin?" He starts out with, "This morning, they were in an accident. (His best friend) is in jail." "Where is my cousin?" I'm pretty sure I was screaming by now because one of the girls I worked with that I was really close to ran over to me. "He died." Those words still echo in my head. I didn't believe him. He and I didn't get along, I knew he had to be playing some kind of sick joke on me. Why would he be the one telling me this? Why wasn't I hearing it from someone in my family? What happened next was a blur...Suddenly my phone just started blowing up. It was all friends, though. I called my mom and ended up having to give the phone to a girl I worked with because she couldn't understand me. She had no idea. She called my aunt (his mom) and from the way she answered the phone my mom could tell that she had no idea. My mom didn't want to tell her because she thought that maybe she didn't know because it was a mistake. But the rest of the world knew. My phone wouldn't stop ringing with calls from friends calling to tell me how sorry they were. I called his brother...he knew nothing. After several calls and having to convince an officer he HAD to tell her the truth before someone got to his mom, my mom finally got an officer to confirm it over the phone. At noon my aunt was finally told. Do you know what it's like to tell a mother that her baby boy is gone?
They were taking turns driving because they had both been drinking and were really tired. His best friend was in the drivers seat, he was seat-belted in the passenger seat. His friend set the cruise control to 70mph so they wouldn't get pulled over for speeding. My cousin leaned his chair back and went to sleep. So did his best friend. As they approached a bridge going 70mph the road suddenly curved. The truck went straight. It flew 300 feet in between the bridges and rolled before landing upright. This happened 10 mins after I talked to him. His watch was busted and the time had stopped at 11 til 1am. At 6:45 am a passing motorist saw the wreck and called it in. Police came and opened his best friends door and told him to get out. He had been passed out. His best friend leaned over and shook my cousin, trying to wake him. He said, "Hey man, wake up, we're going to jail." The cop pulled him out of the car and said, "no man, you're going to jail, your buddy is going to the morgue." My family went to court to make sure that his best friend didn't go to prison. We all grew up together and it could have very well been me and my cousin in that car. His best friend has to live the rest of his life knowing that he killed his best friend. His best friend (who is also my cousin's daughter's godfather) is reminded of the fact that he killed her daddy, every time he looks at my cousin's little girl. She was only 3 at the time, but he hopes one day that she won't hate him for it. And he still lives next door to my cousin's mom. He sees the pain in her eyes everyday, it's never gone away. He's changed his life, and I'm sure it's a mistake that he will never forget. My family will never forget it either. Not a second goes by that I don't still think about my cousin. Not a second.

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